Andrea Segraves misses teaching in a classroom every day but continues to have a positive impact on students through her work.
Segraves is an educator with nearly 20 years of experience and currently serves as Harris County Department of Education’s Director of Special Projects for the Teaching and Learning Center.
She is best recognized for being the organizer of two of the Department’s most prominent projects, the annual R.T. Garcia Early Childhood Winter Conference and the prestigious Scholastic Art and Writing Awards for the Greater Houston region. Segraves also oversees a national leadership speaker series and provides coaching and professional learning for school leaders across Harris County.
“I’ve always been really inspired by professional learning,” said Segraves. “[Before coming to HCDE, I was a] principal at Clear Creek ISD [and was] an instructional leader for four years. I was deep in the work, and I was sure that I would retire as a principal, but an opportunity became available at HCDE where I would be able to lead at the next level, just as the leaders that came before me had tapped me on my shoulder and said ‘hey, you can do more, you can reach further.’”
The Oklahoma native, who has an identical twin sister and an older brother, wasn’t a stranger to education.
“My mom was an educator for 38 years. It wasn’t that she didn’t encourage me to be a teacher. I just think that she knew the struggle of being an educator. [When my mom was a teacher,] I remember knowing when payday was because that’s when our kitchen was restocked, and I remember her coming home tired every day and noticing the stress of the job on her. It was just kind of unspoken that she had wanted something different for us, and so I was the only one of her three kids that chose to go into education.”
But Segraves’ plan wasn’t always to be a teacher. After her freshman year of college, she took a job as a counselor at a summer youth camp and found her calling to be a teacher. She realized she could connect with students easily and was encouraged by their parents to continue working with children.
“The things that shape you are when people see something in you that you don’t see,” said Segraves. “So that summer, I changed my degree path from dental hygiene to education because I just knew that that’s what I was called to do.”
When Segraves became a mother in 2008, she understood why her mother allowed her to decide her own path.
“Being a mom has absolutely helped me be a better educator. My son, Rodney, is my whole world and my whole heart,” she said. “I think it’s pretty interesting to know that I have a biracial child, and that brings another perspective to my life as a human, a mom, and an educator, especially in current times.”
When asked what she believes her mentors saw in her, Segraves says, “something I teach my son when I look back on my career and my life is to be uncommon. Those are very simple words, but they are very powerful. I have a deep passion for the underdog.”
“I was chosen and born to be a mom and an educator. Having chosen a career path as a public servant, reaching the underdog, the one that is struggling the most, is my ultimate responsibility,” she said. “The greater the responsibility, the greater the reward – and that’s why I do this.”